In the crowd of GNU/Linux and BSD users that throng our community, it’s easy to forget that those two families are not the only games in the open-source operating system town. One we’ve casually kept an eye on for years is ReactOS, the long-running open-source Windows-compatible operating system that is doing its best to reach a stable Windows XP-like experience. Their most recent update has a few significant advances mentioned in it that hold the promise of it moving from curiosity to contender, so is definitely worth a second look.
ReactOS has had 64-bit builds for a long time now, but it appears they’ve made some strides in both making them a lot more stable, and moving away from the MSVC compiler to GCC. Sadly this doesn’t seem to mean that this now does the job of a 64-bit Windows API, but it should at least take advantage internally of the 64-bit processors. In addition they have updated their support for the Intel APIC that is paving the way for ongoing work on multiprocessor support where their previous APIC driver couldn’t escape the single processor constraint of an original Intel 8259.
Aside from these its new-found support for multiple monitors should delight more productive users, and its improved support for ISA plug-and-play cards will be of interest to retro enthusiasts.
We took a close look at the current ReactOS release when it came out last year, and concluded that its niche lay in becoming a supported and secure replacement for the many legacy Windows XP machines that are still hanging on years after that OS faded away. We look forward to these and other enhancements in their next release, which can’t be far away.